October 28, 2021

meeting Doodie, the best photo ever, and a painful HEADS UP

I've thought of a few other adventures that took place before the boys moved in. 

A few weeks before I stayed with them in the hotel in Indiana, Coach, Curly, and I were supposed to meet Debbie half way. We ended up sitting on the expressway for over an hour in the same.exact.position. There'd been an accident on the other side of the interstate. Loss of life. It was incredibly sad. 

Fortunately, Debbie agreed to meet us at our hotel rather than sit at the halfway spot and wait. We appreciated that so much, and Curly was so relieved. The next day we took the boys to a water park. It was a fast 24 hour visit, but they had a blast. Fortunately, so did Curly. 

It was a hot sunny day and we had little info on this park, so we got there early in case they shut down for too many guests. Nope, they let in everyone and their brother. If you are keeping a tally, you can count Indiana as a state that likes to pretend there's no pandemic. 

Our kids had participated in visits whenever possible, often missing out on something at home. They rose to the occasion regularly. Sometimes I gave them a gentle reminder about how much their presence meant to the boys, and also how much we were banking on their feedback. As in, we need your input. 

At the water park, Larry made a friend. This was typical. Larry made friends at every park, playground, or beach we visited. 

Larry could kind of hold his breath in the water, but he knew no strokes. I tried to show him how to blow bubbles, kick his legs, then add  arms. The basics. I'm no Michael Phelps. We were in the main pool. Coach had taken Harry on the lazy river or something that Larry didn't want to do right then. And Curly was free to do whatever she wanted.

He and I played catch with a ball we'd brought and occasionally I gave him pointers on how to swim. It didn't take long before a little boy came over and asked if he could play catch with Larry. Larry asked me if it was OK. 

Me (to myself): You mean, you want to play with a kid your age and you expect me to just lean up against the side of the pool and catch some rays instead of trying to create fun out of a game of catch in a crazy crowded pool where I am constantly worried that I might accidentally hit someone with the ball, or you will, and one of us will get a nasty glare, I mean - I guess I'm OK with it.

After the boys played catch a bit, they came closer to me. Larry had a question.

Larry:  This is my friend. Can you teach him how to swim like you taught me? 

I never saw this kid's parents and I have no idea how you let a kid who doesn't really know how to swim just wander off to do his thing at a crowded water park, but there are lots of different parenting styles, I guess. 

Me:  Um, sure. What's you name, buddy? 

Boy in need of swimming lessons:  Doodie.


compliments of YARN memes

Above is a GIF from Caddy Shack. If you are unfamiliar:  it's a Baby Ruth dropped in the pool. The rest is history. Someone, who doesn't watch their kid in a water park, named their kid Doodie. 

I asked him to repeat it a few times, so I was sure I wasn't CALLING him Doodie without just cause. 

Anyway, I provided Doodie with a few basic swimming lessons. He would 'perfect' kicking or blowing bubbles and splash right back over to me and ask for his next assignment. He was quite pleased with himself. He and Larry splashed around in their new mission to swim like champs. It was pretty sweet. 

When we left to meet Debbie again, Larry said something along the lines, SO THAT'S YOUR POOL THEN? Poor confused boy, who wasn't allowed to leave Indiana with us, thought that was going to be our regular, daily-pool hang-out once he officially moved in. We were like, nope. Our pool isn't that busy - wish we had slides like this, but we have a high dive and a low dive. It's also a lot less crowded. 

The other visit I failed to give a shout out to was back in April when Larry was celebrating his 9th birthday. We drove in for the day and met him at an indoor adventure place full of bouncy houses, video games, gross pizza, people who looked like they hung out in those venues too much, and most likely lots-0-germs. Nary a mask was worn, except by us. 

Anyway, Curly was the only one planning to go. When we were literally walking out to the car to leave, Reg walked into the kitchen. We'd already begged him to come. It was more fun for Curly to have a buddy along and we commenced with our begging. Reg wanted to play basketball outside all day - an almost 8 hour round trip drive did NOT appeal, but we pointed out that it was a rainout. We reminded him that Debbie had the keys to the school she worked at. She'd let us go there to shoot hoops after the germy-kid-place. 

A nice gym. All to ourselves. Reg threw on some clothes, brushed his teeth, and hopped in the car. Curly squealed with delight. 

Curly and Reg ran around the germ-infested-joint and helped the boys get as many tickets as possible so they could eventually pick a really lame prize. Then they found the basketball shooting game. Um, Reg and Curly broke the record and got to type their names in the register thing - Harry and Larry were impressed and overjoyed. 

Debbie's 3 yr old granddaughter, who she is raising, was there. She is super shy and kept begging Debbie to take her on the bouncy houses. I gave Curly a nod and soon granddaughter had Curly wrapped around her little finger, or vice versa. 

Afterwards we went to the school and basketball was played at nauseum. We drove home with a sweaty, smelly Reg. He and Curly chuckled about little things that had happened during the visit. 

The highlight:  we gave Larry his gift. It was a pop-up soccer goal and a mini b-ball hoop for over the door. We'd talked about signing them up for local soccer league and they were pumped. B-ball is Larry's favorite thing in the world. 

I also made him a photo frame. I took a handful of photos since we'd met the boys and organized them in a collage. I made sure each of our kids was represented. It was a last minute add on, but it turned out cute. 

I wish I could share the expression on his face when he opened it. His face went from: 


I happened to snap a picture of him opening the frame and I captured his face. Priceless. 

Heads up:  not gonna lie, these happy memories are hard to share. I wish I'd posted them in real time, but I wanted to be SURE this was a go before I opened up about our journey. Things get incredibly difficult later. It is REALLY hard for me to look back at all of this knowing what lies in wait for us. Sometimes writing about it is therapeutic and sometimes it's just a struggle, but I don't want to delay the rest of the story either. I wanna wrap it up. I'm in a pickle over here. I so appreciate everyone's support, but I also feel like I'm stringing you along on this hopeful ride that might not turn out the way any of us dreamed and I feel unjustified in accepting all of your praise. Not that we weren't doing EVERYTHING that I'm describing AND THEN SOME, but it feels odd to hear how overjoyed everyone is that we are accepting the boys into our life (even though that is exactly what we've done) . . . because you all happen to be a little behind in the reality that is currently happening. I'm going to leave it at that for this week. 


Nicole MacPherson said...

Oh no. I have a heartbreaking feeling I know how this goes. Oh no. I'll wait until your next post.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Incredible - looking back things spiraled out of control at lightning speed.

Pat Birnie said...

I started reading this with a full heart, enjoying all the sweet adventures and amazing Curly & Reg. By the end my heart had the same feeling Nicole mentioned. What a challenging journey you guys have been on. hugs

Ernie said...

Pat - I know, it's been so hard. There were good times and we had such hope. The boys needs were not made clear. You really won't believe what has gone on and there is still so much to describe.

KP said...

I am so sorry. And I just LOATHE people who, when sharing accurate information is a necessity, fail to do so. Doctors and social workers are at the top of that list.

Ally Bean said...

Oh dear, there's *a rest of the story* coming. Still glad you shared some fun moments here.

Jenny in WV said...

That water park sounds awesome! A lazy river is a main component of my dream vacation.
Something you said in a previous post has made me suspect there is a major bump in the road coming. I really hope I'm wrong, but I don't know.
Whatever happens, I hope the good memories last for everyone.

Ernie said...

KP - Information was so crucial in this situation. I don't think Indiana grasps things that are essential, particularly this very small office in the middle of nowhere. We were bamboozled. In a word.

Ernie said...

Beth - I think you will find the next few chapters unbelievable.

Ernie said...

Ally - I did enjoy these stories and I'm sort of kicking myself for not waiting to share the difficulties separate from this, but I didn't think I could handle another affirming comment knowing what was to come. No joke, I thought on Thursday last week that I was perhaps on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The rest of the story is downright unsettling.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Oh my gosh, we did so many visits with the kids and tried new ways to entertain them. This water park was a great time. In fact, Indiana told us moments after the boys moved in that we could go ahead with the adoption rather than wait 6 months since we'd done so much. That, honestly, was a red flag. Were they just trying to unload them? Or had they sincerely been in awe of our work in advance. Our worker urged us to wait just to be sure it was a good fit. Even if we had wanted to adopt immediately, I HAD ZERO TIME TO FILL OUT ANY OF THE PAPERWORK THEY'D SENT.

Maddie said...

Aw Ernie. It sounds like the next chapters in your story are going to be heart breaking. I have a bad feeling that in spite of all your (and your family’s) hard work and team spirit to make things work…. you’re about to be blindsided. Ugh. I still think you and your family deserve praise (no matter how things go) bc all I see here is an entire family using every resource they have in a selfless way. We can’t control other people or institutions. We can only work with what we’re told. Sending love.

me said...

Oh no. I sort of want to run away and not read anymore now. But if you had the courage to live through it and write about it, it deserves to be read.
My continued prayers for your family.

Ernie said...

Maddie - I appreciate your words. You've warmed my heart. Thank you. Kicking myself a little for revealing a bit prematurely, but I decided to give myself a break. It's really taken a toll writing in slow motion. There is still so much to share and discuss and I've decided to show a video of Curly in action as the greatest big sister a family could ask for in a time of serious turmoil. Identity be damned. You will be in disbelief. You nailed it with the control aspect - so much of this we couldn't control and that was REALLY hard to handle. Wait, did I just call myself a control freak? Ha, no seriously what I mean is that we worked so hard and ultimately we could only do what we could do.

Ernie said...

Me - You are not the only one that wants to run away. I appreciate you sticking it out here, and that was my fear - that no one would tune in to what actually went down once I leaked that it was not all rainbows and sunshine. Prayers are so very welcome as I honestly cannot begin to tell you the struggle this has been.

Kari said...


Also, Doodie? For real??

I did get a kick out of the boys mistaking the water park for your pool. That is something I would have thought as a child.

Sending you all a hug.

Ernie said...

Kari- I assume Doodie is a nickname for something, but it begs the question HOWC DOES ONE GET THAT NICKNAME?

We had talked at length about our local pool with a high dive and a low dive and how we'd spend as much time there ads possible but we DID stay in a hotel in order to swim at this one, etc. It really stink that they couldn't come for an extended visit so all of us could have more of an understanding of where we were and how all the pieces fit together.


ka-lyn said...

It took us about 3 calls for potential placements before we realized it is all a game of marketing & sales in foster care (and foster care adoption). Sadly, they "market" these traumatized kids out of desperation but it is so easy to lead people astray and have them end up over their heads and unable to meet the child's needs. We learned that statements like, "He sometimes wakes up in the night and has to be rocked back to sleep" means the child doesn't sleep for more than an hour at a time and takes 2-3 hours to get back to sleep. If you accept the placement, don't plan to sleep for the next few months.

It's all so hard! But trauma leaves very deep scars and there is not a child available for adoption through foster care that is not affected. You will never really know what you are getting into until you take the child into your home. And even then it can take months to really see how badly the child has been hurt and understand the depth of the struggles.

Suzanne said...

I am holding you all in my heart. <3

Busy Bee Suz said...

I just love your kids; they're such 'team players' for this journey.
Big hugs my friend.

Ernie said...

Kari - I do like to believe that the little office that handles the boys came is clueless, but not horrible enough to try to place them while pulling the wool over the eyes of the potential parents. I think they just don't really get it. This was evidenced by many thing - names not even knowing what TBRI training meant.

You are right, all kids whose parents' rights have been terminated have experienced trauma. Some just have deeper scars than others. It is a disheartening process.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- Thank you. I truly appreciate your support.

Ernie said...

Suz - You really are right. Thanks for noticing. I would occasionally stop and wonder at how much they were doing and how willing they were to participate even when they had other things going on or something they'd prefer to do.

I will say there were some ticked off teens one night when the boys followed them to the hot tub at the rental house this summer. My girls had tried to sneak out after dinner to score some big kid time in the hot tub. When the boys appeared and insisted on joining, the girls were slightly disgruntled. I also had no problem setting aside 'big kid' time, so I was like "you boys have 5 minutes then you are done. Big kids need alone time." Keeping the peace was mucho importanto.

Bibliomama said...

No matter how it turned out, this was a really lovely moment.

Ernie said...

Ali - Yes, there were many moments that we will always cherish.